Retired MSU staffer creates art on the smallest of scales with toys

Retired MSU staffer creates art on the smallest of scales with toys

Kevin Epling sets up action figures in one of his toy photography art sets Wednesday, May 24, 2023, at his home in East Lansing.

EAST LANSING — Michigan State University’s students and staff were the prime subjects of the photos and videos Kevin Epling helped create for 30 years as a member of the school’s University Communications department.

Epling, who retired in January, oversaw content creation for the public, first managing photos and videos and then as assistant director of the department. His goal was to tell good stories, he said.

Today, Epling is still a storyteller, but he’s doing it on a much smaller scale.

"pops," one of East Lansing resident and toy photographer Kevin Epling's creations.  Toy photography requires smaller lights, a smaller stage and smaller actors, said Epling, who retired from his job as the assistant director of Michigan State University's University of Communications in January.

His work at Smallscalepics combines his photography and lighting skills with unique dioramas and his favorite heroes and villains in action-figure form. Epling creates works of art that showcase Batman, Popeye, Joker and Spider-Man, as well as Star Wars characters and others.

Epling discovered toy photography in the 1990s. He started working with it again about 15 years ago. He’s been showing and selling prints of his work at festivals for four years, and his work was on display at the East Lansing Public Art Gallery in February.

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